Episode #33: Published June 12, 2019
Barbara Morgan Gardner’s journey to understanding her access as a woman to priesthood power began as a young girl wondering which scriptures applied to her and which didn’t. Today on “All In,” she shares both doctrinal insights and practical tips for accessing and celebrating the gift of priesthood power to both men and women.
"There's no blessing, there's no privilege, there is no covenant, that God isn't allowing the women to partake of that He is allowing the men to partake of..."
Read Barbara's Ensign article here.
Barbara's original article written for Seminaries and Institutes can be found here.
Morgan Jones: In the March 2019 Ensign Barbara Morgan Gardner wrote, "We're living in a day when equality, power, fairness and tolerance are touted—often above other virtues." She goes on to say that "Identity, authority, spirituality and even God are topics of great confusion for many." So what could help shine light on the confusion surrounding these topics, Barbara says a better understanding of women's connection to priesthood power may be a good place to start.
Barbara Morgan Gardner is an Associate Professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. She is the recipient of a Ph.D in Instructional Psychology, a Master's in Educational Leadership, and she completed postdoctoral work at Harvard University. During her time in Boston, she served as Institute director and a chaplain at both Harvard and MIT, she is now the chaplain at large in higher education for the church.
This is "All In," an LDS living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be "all in" the gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Jones. And I'm grateful to have Barbara Morgan Gardner with me today. Barbara, thank you so much for being here with us today.
Barbara Morgan Gardner: Thank you, Morgan. It's, it's a great pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.
MJ: Well, I am so excited to talk with you because you wrote this article for the Ensign and I don't know when I can remember seeing as many people share an article online from the Ensign as I saw share your article so I'm excited to talk with you about women and their access to priesthood power today. First of all, can you tell me how did that Ensign article come to be?
BMG: The Ensign article came to be just from a, I wrote an article for Seminaries and Institutes, just on helping the young women in their classes better understand the priesthood. And the article was very well received. I had a number of Seminary and Institute teachers, just expressing gratitude for that, but also asking a number of questions about it. And after it was out there for a while, I received a phone call from the Priesthood Department and they just asked me if I would shorten it down and write the article for a more general LDS population, which is what I did, and then they published it from there.
MJ: Yeah, you did a great job of it. I actually found that full article.
BMG: Oh, good.
MJ: And so that was super helpful to me just in kind of even broadening my perspective of what you wrote about in the Ensign. You wrote in the article that we live in a day when equality, power, fairness and tolerance are touted, often above other virtues. I'm curious, Barbara, for you, how do we see that even within the church and what do you think is the best way, in your opinion, to live the gospel in such a climate?
BMG: I think we see it in the church a number of ways. We live in a world where, as you said, those attributes are touted and you can't keep the world out of the Church. We're all human. We're all supposed to be alive. We're all supposed to be living in the world, but not of the world. And so living in the world just creates that kind of atmosphere. As far as how can we get beyond that, perhaps in a sense, I would say we need to have an eye single to the glory of God. We need to understand the way that God thinks, the way that God lives His life, the plan that He has prepared for His children. And I think when we have an eye single to His glory, we're not comparing the horizontal manner of men and women or women and women. We're not doing what we see in First Nephi with the great and spacious building and people eating the fruit and then looking horizontally at the building and wondering if people are laughing and the Scriptures aren't comparing. And God isn't comparing as well. And as we focus on God and we get to know our Savior, Jesus Christ better, we're more and more likely to, to look for Him for validation. And we're more likely to look to Him for how we're doing and what we should be doing and the ideas and opinions and processes of other people have less and less important in our lives. And I believe that that's one of the reasons why President Nelson is trying to get us to really focus on the Savior. It's one of many reasons he's trying to get us to focus on the Savior. The closer we are to Him, the less likely we are to be undermined or compare ourselves to other people.
MJ: That was so good. And the thing that kept running through my mind as you were talking is social media.
BMG: Yes, absolutely.
MJ: I think that social media has taken that desire to look horizontally to a whole (a)nother level.
BMG: Almost a level that is unfathomable. I don't think that we even recognize how much social media really does influence us as a people. I think of you know, I teach at Brigham Young University and I look at my students and and they are constantly on social media and looking at Instagram and even taking pictures and selfies and sending them to each other and I look at my own family, I look at myself, and just a simple influence of just clicking on Facebook for five minutes. And that the pictures that you see and the stories that are shown and and you're just reading about other people's lives and you can't help but just look at it and say what about my life, but in reality, none of that is as important as much as the relationships that we have with each other and the relationship we have with God but it is so easy to compare and also to judge by doing so and looking at the way people wear their clothes or the comments people say, we just have to be so so careful. There are always great, great ways that Facebook and social media and Twitter accounts everything else can be of benefit, but at the same time, they can also be very damaging, especially in relationships with each other.
MJ: Absolutely. I think it's interesting to think about as we talk about our relationship with God and seeking validation from him. One thing that I think sometimes people look at, and they take it as a knock on women, is the priesthood. We look at it. And if we're looking horizontally, we say, well, men have it. Why don't we have it? Why is it significant and important, Barbara do you believe, for women to understand their access to preset power?
BMG: I think for one thing, what you just said is so prevalent, and it has been for years, men have the priesthood and women don't. Well women do, that's kind of the paradox of the whole situation. Women are not ordained to a priesthood office. But women by virtue of the covenants they make, and..through the covenants that others have made being born in the covenant gives them access to the priests to power. So in a church setting, for example, women have been told recently by President Oaks and many others that women have the power and authority of the priesthood given to them by one who holds priesthood keys. In a family setting, women have access to the priesthood by the covenants and the ordinances they participate in, starting frankly at baptism, and going throughout their lives. But especially when they enter the temple, the emphasis on women and the priesthood, and the temple. And the authority and power women receive in the temple has been discussed and added upon and detailed more in the last probably five years than since the days of Joseph Smith, I believe, just looking through the history of the Church. And there's no question that women have priesthood power and priesthood authority. The prophet is trying to get women to understand that, he's pleading with the women to understand that. So in some cases, I think women feel like by studying the priesthood or by saying that they have priesthood in some way, it's going against the Church or it's in some way, some sort of stand against the prophets or stand against the leaders of the church, but in reality, in actually saying that we do have the priesthood and studying more about it and living in such a way that we do, we're actually standing with the prophet, we're standing with leaders of the Church. And we're able to strengthen families, strengthen the church, frankly, strengthen the world. So one of the reasons it's so important is because if we don't, then we are living way below our privileges, it's critical that we know
MJ: I love Barbara that you are so passionate about this, you can like see it in your body language. I wish that those listening could see how passionate you are about this topic. But I do think it's so important. We talked when you first got here today about Wendy Ulrich and how we had recently had a conversation with her on this podcast about the same topic. But today, we kind of want to focus a little bit more on application. And so with Wendy, we talked about how women do have this access. In the article for the Ensign you wrote, "We are doing ourselves and others no matter how well-intended a disservice by instigating and perpetuating confusion and minimizing God's power." Why is it important for also men in the church to understand and internalize this access to God's power?
BMG: Yes, so recently, President Nelson, speaking at the general session of Priesthood but speaking to the priesthood brethren in this case, told the men and the women that they were not accessing the priesthood as well as they could be and they were living below their priesthood privileges. He's speaking to both genders. And so I think for men, I'm going to speak for men and women at the same time, and then maybe I'll break it off a little bit. But yeah, for men, understanding the women's role and the women's role in the priesthood is extremely important. I remember growing up as a child, I was the 12th child of 13. And I have seven sisters and five brothers. And I remember reading the scriptures together as a family. And we did our 15 minutes scripture study in the mornings as well as we could. And I remember, even even as a eight, nine, 10 year old wondering what scriptures applied to me and what scriptures didn't as a girl. And then I remember being in seminary and it becoming even more important as I was trying to talk to my friends and kind of feeling like a little missionary out there. I was raised in Oregon and trying to answer questions of my friends and going to the temple to do baptisms for the dead and just wondering, again, what has to do with me and what has has to do with them? Meaning me, meaning women in the church, and then meaning men in the church. But then especially when I received my endowments, and then when I was going on a mission, those questions became even stronger. What did I just learned in the temple? What is this priesthood power? Are women ordained to the priesthood? That became very important to me, especially as a missionary, I was trying to determine, you know, Alma says that he's been given power and authority of God to be a missionary and you know, and the sons of Helaman and you just look at all these, these different stories of missionary work. And I remember just thinking, "What does this have to do with me, I clearly don't have the priesthood. I've been told that all my life." And then moving on as a seminary teacher, I taught seminary for a number of years, and I taught Institute for a number of years and, and trying to teach my students and acting like I didn't care was was not helping. And I was just searching for answers. And it started to become so important for me to have men in my life: my father, other seminary teachers, other priesthood leaders that hold the priesthood being able to have open and honest discussions with me about what the priesthood is and about holding the priesthood. And some of the answers were not necessarily the best, but they were all good intentioned answers, I believe. But I think my dad, especially having a father, and in this case, why is it important for men? Having a father in the home that was very respectful of me when I would ask questions, and he would help me dig into the answers. My mother did the same thing. My parents were very, very good at being accessible and working through questions with me, instead of shutting me down just saying, "Don't worry about it, put it on the shelf for now." Some things did need to be put on the shelf. But since we're talking about the men, I was so grateful that my dad was able to walk through the Doctrine & Covenants with me and look at different scriptures that had to do with temple versus family and versus church or to be able to go through the teachings of the prophets. I remember him just passing me books from his bookshelf, and just saying, "Maybe you ought to read this, maybe you ought to read this." And he didn't necessarily have all the answers. But he knew that God knew all the answers, and he was able to guide me and always teach me that the Spirit knows everything, and to study as much as I could and pay attention to the spirit. So I think for men, men need to know that women have questions. And they aren't always easy to answer, that the men's position in the church often is much more laid out, it's much more obvious than the woman's role, the woman's role is so much more ambiguous on so many levels. So for a father, for a brother, I'm grateful for my brothers that recognized that I wasn't trying to be cutting anybody down, I wasn't trying to have equal Power Authority, I was just simply trying to understand. I'm grateful also for their humor and putting me in my place sometimes, which was also really thoughtful. I mean, five brothers can do a really good job at doing that. But I'm also grateful for, you know, I look back and look at the bishops, some better than others, but all of them, I think, with their intention of being good and trying to direct. If they at their time in their lives, whenever they were bishops or stake presidents or other leadership roles of the Church, would have shut me down, it would have been very, very difficult. But I would say for the majority of them, they were very good at just trying to help answer questions without trying to tell me not to worry about it, that's something that the men need to worry about. I also think it's important because especially when we're talking about the temple. We don't have enough women mentors in the Church. We don't have enough women who understand the doctrines associated with the temple, especially and President Nelson and President Oaks and President Eyring and President Ballard and the leaders of the Church have literally been begging, pleading, and instructing women to be better at that. But we do have more men, I would say that, in many ways, have been trained in what it is to have a priesthood. They've been trained in temple work, they've been trained in different ways. And I think that the more they know about the women's role in the Church, the more they can support the women, the more they can teach the women. On the other side, now I'll go to the women, why is it important for women?
Women, as I said, we don't have enough women mentors, we have great mentors of women in a number of areas. But recently, President Nelson has pled with the women of the church to know the doctrine better. President Ballard, at a Education Week, pretty much begged the women to better understand the doctrine, to teach it around the campfire and in their homes and in school and in the community. And so they're, they're recognizing the importance of women as role models and what they can do. Many women with the best of intentions struggle to teach their daughters and other young women and women of their own ages what the doctrine of the priesthood is. They have a difficulty understanding the power of the priesthood and the difference between power and authority. That's one of the things that I have noticed a lot. And when you have a young woman that comes to you and says, "Why do men have the priesthood and women not have the priesthood?" And then the answer is, "I don't know." That's, that's an okay answer. But I hope the women of the church are saying, "I don't know, but I'm going to find out with you. And we'll work together on this. And we're going to have some good answers." And then hopefully, they get to the point where they say, "You know, we do. And as a matter of fact, let's talk more, and let's go to the temple together, or let's read the scriptures together," and really guide them through that process so that we can strengthen and as President Nelson says, so that we can give the privileges that men and women need to have on this earth. We cannot have and we cannot help God's work to have eternal life for the women and men of this Church, unless women and men better understand and use the priesthood. It's impossible to have eternal life without the priesthood. So we better understand it, and teach it effectively.
I feel like there's so much to unpack from what you just said. But one of the things that stood out to me, in reading some of the things that you've written, Barbara, was that you actually offered practical application advice, in how women and men can better do these things, better be prepared to have these conversations and to conversate about it. One thing that I loved was you emphasized the importance of studying the oath and covenant at the priesthood. Why is it that you are so passionate about that?
BMG: So the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood, it's a part of the doctrine covenants, section 84, of the doctrine, covenants, and then that section, it's often taught and memorized by and understood as to pertain only to men. And when you look at that section in church history, it's clearly a section on the temple. It's not a section that's talking about hierarchical structure of the church. And when we're talking about hierarchal structure, the church, we're typically talking about men holding the priesthood, being ordained to a priesthood office more specifically. That's not the case as far as I can tell with this section. Sister Linda K. Burton invited the sisters of the Church to memorize the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood. When she first asked them to do that. I thought, "Now that is so interesting that she's asking the sisters of the church to memorize that." And on a personal note, I took it upon myself to memorize it, I was kind of slow and going. And it wasn't until I was asked to speak at women's conference, that I really took it seriously because I was asked to speak specifically on the priesthood a topic that I studied a lot. But now I was asked to speak on it. And I thought, How can I give a talk on the priesthood if I haven't even taken sister burdens challenge to heart, when that's one of the most important things of understanding the priesthood is what I felt at the time and as proven to be true. So I found myself going to the temple and memorizing the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood while waiting to do the initiatory session. And it dawned on me as I was memorizing it how, I should say parallel in a way, some of the blessings regarding the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood, if not all of the blessings and all the promises, and the oaths and everything associated with that are very temple oriented. And then I went back to the section after leaving the temple a number of times to just read it to make sure that that was the case. And I found indeed it is. If women better understand the Oath and Covenant, and promises associated with the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood, they will recognize in a way they probably haven't before that there is no blessing. And no covenant per se that a woman cannot and does not make that men do, especially regarding the temple. The blessings of having angels round about us, and that we are inheritors of all that God has and equal heirs with God is very, very clear in that section. And there are promises that are made known in that section that are very applicable. So long story short, I guess in that answer, a reading and understanding and I would even say a memorizing of the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood will better help the women understand, in part, what God is hoping and wanting and willing and able to give both men and women in the church, and it empowers the women. Let me give you a quick example.
I've had a number of students that have memorized, I used to make it an extra credit assignment, after realizing how important it was to have students just to memorize the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood, especially the girls, the women in the classes. And after memorizing it, they would give it to me word for word. And I would ask them, so what does this have to do with you? And without fail, I would say the first 15 young women that answer the question always talked about their brothers, their dads, their future husbands, and I would say, "Okay, that's great for them, but what does it have to do with you?" And they couldn't answer. And it started becoming almost a little frustration and a recognition that I need to do more teaching, not necessarily on the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood, but the priesthood in general, to help the women of the Church understand we're cutting ourselves short, if we don't believe that God has all these promises for women that are equal to the men. There's no blessing, there's no privilege, there is no covenant, that God isn't allowing the women to partake of that He is allowing the men to partake of, and those blessings are huge beyond what most members of church including myself, I'm sure, even understands at this point.
MJ: Yeah. You mentioned earlier, Barbara, that one of the things that President Nelson and the leadership of the church have really been stressing is to understand this and that by striving to better understand it, we're really standing with them. I have a friend that said to me, "I feel like it's (and she was referring to our understanding of women's roles in accessing priesthood power) is broadening and changing so fast. How do we keep up? How do we not get ahead of ourselves?" And I really liked that question, because I thought it was very honest. And I think we do look at it and it's shifted so much just in the past few years. I remember, you know, being younger and never hearing conversations about women accessing priesthood power, but now we're hearing it more and more and more. And it's not that anything's changed. But how do we keep up with what we're learning and absorbing?
BMG: Yeah, I appreciate a couple of things you said there Morgan. One of the things is about it not changing. The access and maybe the emphasis and the position of women and their use of priesthood definitely has been stronger, as I mentioned earlier. But the doctrine of the priesthood has not changed at all, it has been the same since since the days of Adam, and it's been one of the greatest takeaways from my studying is the priesthood is the power of God. And God has always had power. And he has given that power to Adam and Eve, to Abraham and Sarah, and to Joseph and Emma, and to President and Sister Nelson, and to every worthy member of the Church who has received their endowments, and also another blessing for those who have been sealed in the temple. I'm actually very conscientious about single women and making sure that they are recognizing this because I was single till I was 40. And the blessings and promises of the priesthood are relevant for single as well as married women. So I'm just going to throw that in for a second as well. As far as how do we, how do we not get ahead of ourselves, or the church or the brethren, the number one thing I would say is stay close to the brethren, and the auxiliary leaders, the female leaders as well. Listen carefully to their talks, read and reread what they're saying. Whether it be at general conference or in other settings, Education Week, women's conferences, and study the scriptures very closely. And then most important, listen and pray for the guidance of the Spirit. And all of the things that I have learned regarding the priesthood, especially for women. I've been shocked that although we've been emphasizing it more in the last few years, it's always been there. I have gone through so many Ensign articles, and so many general conference talks, and so many teachings of Joseph Smith especially and it is blaringly there. And I think that we've gone through ebbs and flows of it being taught, but it's ebbs and flows, there are times when it's being taught more and times when it's being taught less. But the brethren are quoting Joseph F. Smith, and they're quoting Joseph Smith, they're not just quoting themselves, which I find very fascinating. But I think as we also work on, I know, for me as publishing or talking about things in my classes, and being careful with talking to friends or family, I'm cautious to know enough about what the brethren are saying to not say things that are guesses or explanations that haven't been given, I'm careful to know my sources and to be able to go back to those sources, and the term I use is triangulate. I will look at what President Nelson says and see if there's another one of the apostles recently who has said something similar. And then I'll go to my scriptures and see if it's also there. And I take it to the Lord, and the Spirit, and I just pay attention. And I can honestly say I've yet to find a time when the Spirit hasn't confirmed what President Nelson has said, or President Oaks has said. And I think if we stay close to the brethren and stay close to the Spirit, stay close to the scriptures. We're in very safe territory.
MJ: I think that is so so wise. I was thinking about how recently I've been thinking about how when you say I don't know an answer to something. I think that's one of the wisest answers that can be given to any question and then seeking that knowledge and how important that is. So I love that idea of triangulating. How did you say it?
MJ: I like that a lot. So, Barbara, next, I want to ask you about
BMG: Can I give you just one more thing on not giving answers?
MJ: Please, yeah.
BMG: President Oaks has a great quote, a talk and a great quote where he talks about not giving answers to questions that the Lord hasn't given answers to. So for example, many have asked why women are not ordained to a Priesthood office. I loved President Hinckley's answer to that, his question was simply, "I don't know the Lord has not revealed it." As members of the Church, I have heard so many answers to that question and similar questions. And just something I have learned and I have a testimony of that's very strong: If the Lord hasn't given an answer, we shouldn't be giving answers. If you want to cause confusion and you want people to question testimonies and really struggle in the Church is to give an answer to a question God hasn't answered. And the topic of women and the priesthood is one of those extremely important topics. The answers are as fluid and as far fetched as I could possibly imagine. And they're never good. God hasn't given the answer so we simply do not know.
MJ: Yeah, if President Hinckley didn't know the answer, we probably don't.
BMG: And President Nelson hasn't given us anything more. He's just asked us to learn more and to act on what we do now. So yeah.
MJ: I want to touch on something else that you emphasized in the Ensign article, you talked about what it means to preside. And I am extra passionate about this because my mission president was extremely passionate about it. And he would always do this thing where he would like quiz us on who presides in any situation, he'd say, who presides in that situation? And it was very intimidating. One of my mission companions, she would always joke and she'd be like, I don't know President, I don't know who presides because he would come up with the most complex situations. But why is it important, Barbara to understand and to know who presides in any given situation?
BMG: Okay. I think the number one reason is, especially when we're talking about priesthood and presiding, again, priesthood is God's power and authority. And when you're presiding using the priesthood, per se, you're using God's power and authority and it should be known that that is what you are using in that case. So if one is presiding correctly, or incorrectly or if one is presiding, and they shouldn't be presiding, they are not using God's power and authority, amen to the priesthood. So I think you have to know, I think it's absolutely critical to understand that, when it is that you're using the priesthood. There are times in life when we're not necessarily using the priesthood and somebody's presiding, or somebody has been given a specific responsibility, and that may not be presiding as the Church uses the term presiding, or as the family uses the term presiding. So I think as far as using presiding, we have to understand that there is a major difference in presiding in the home and presiding in the Church. President Oaks actually talks very specifically about this and the importance of knowing the difference. One of the things I've noticed is members of the Church try to overlap the two. You can't take presiding in the Church and overlap presiding in the family and act as if they're the same thing. The leaders of the Church as well as the scriptures are very clear in that church presiding, one who holds a priesthood office or who has priesthood authority, presides differently than one who presides in the family. So for example, one who presides in the Church is dependent upon the key holder, the key holder will give permission per se or give authority to a person to preside or if he hasn't, then those people who have been given authority can share in a presiding responsibility. That's different than the family. So in the Church, you have a president and a vice president or you have a president, you really don't have vice presidents in the Church, I guess. But you have a president and you have counselors. And in the family, you don't. There is no president and vice president, as Elder Harold B. Lee says, in the family. When a man and a woman go to the temple and they are sealed, neither the man nor the women receives keys. When a man and a woman are kneeling across the altar, they are on equal ground figuratively, and literally. They are kneeling at the altar, and the man doesn't receive some authority that woman doesn't. They receive the same authority, the same responsibility while they're kneeling across the altar. So when a family, although it says the father presides, I believe it's acknowledged that the man and the women are husband and wife together and they are both in charge of the family together. They are responsible and they are taking on the responsibility. The Family Proclamation uses the word preside specifically but it also uses the word nurturing specifically. And I think the brethren are trying to help us understand those words better. I think it's fascinating that President Eyring in his last talk to the women of the Church talks about the importance of what it means to nurture and he basically says, "Women, you have the primary responsibility for the teaching and learning of your children." Well, if that's not a level of responsibility above what most women understand, then I think we might be missing something. He's basically saying women, you have the responsibility for the celestial kingdom of your children. And hopefully, you're doing that with your husbands and then he's saying men and you also have the responsibility for the Celestial kingdom or being able to receive salvation with your family. So he's laying it on both of them, just using different words to explain it. So I think it's absolutely important. Perhaps most important, I think the difference isn't as much between the Church and the family as it is between the Church and the world. I think the world uses the word preside meaning in charge of or power over or something of that nature. When I teach my students the word preside, I often talk about what preside is not. You don't find leaders of the Church today talking about when a man presides in the home that he's supposed to rule with a heavy hand or that he's supposed to be bossy or that he's going to be in charge. You don't find those words, what you find is love, kindness, submissive, meek, humble, you find the brethren talking about the importance of performing ordinances in the home in relation to presiding and helping family members make and keep sacred covenants with the Lord. Presiding in the Church clearly is Jesus Christ, through those who are priesthood holders, bringing the children of our Heavenly Parents back to them. It's a very humble, sacred responsibility both in the Church and in the home.
MJ: That's fascinating. You once wrote "From personal experience, LDS (Latter-day Saint) women have been granted opportunities in and through association with the Church. This association is unparalleled throughout the world and will yield eternal blessings beyond our imagination in the world to come. How have you seen those blessings through your association with the Church in your personal life?
BMG: I've seen those blessings in a number of ways and major ways, I feel like the number one way although minimized by some people today is the blessing of being a mother. The blessing of influencing. I don't have children of my own, but I have, through I believe a number of different ways, been given opportunities to to influence people at a very important level. As I've said before, I've taught in church callings and had leadership responsibilities. I've taught seminary full-time, where I've taught thousands of students that are now throughout the world. I've served as a missionary for the Church. I've been an institute teacher, a religion professor. All of those things are for me, although they're important teaching assignments, their nurturing assignments, being a mother is a priesthood responsibility. And so anytime we're influencing or nurturing or blessing other people's lives, we are given that opportunity. Besides mothering, per say, whether it's having children of your own or mothering as we've been taught, I've seen women and had opportunities myself to speak and be in influencing positions of people of a variety of faiths. I currently serve on a Jewish interfaith committee. And on other committees of interfaith groups, I've served as a chaplain for the church, I still continue to serve as a chaplain for higher education in the church, I've been an institute director where I've been over, you know, a hundred different universities and worked with the seminaries as well. And I've seen that for myself. But I've also seen women who are attorneys for religious freedom and judges for youth, and all of these areas, although they may seem professional in some ways. When you look at these women, you see a power in them and an authority in them and an ability in them that is beyond their capacity. It may not be recognized by some in the world. But I think when you have eyes to see, and you're really paying attention to the influence that they're having in the world, you see a power that is coming from God that is not necessarily of their own making. And I believe that that comes through the covenants that they are making and keeping with the Lord and their righteous lives. Power of the priesthood comes through righteousness and when women of the Church especially are making and living those covenants, there's a power beyond their own that is recognizable for sure. And that comes because of their association with the Church.
MJ: Yeah. I'm curious, Barbara, moreso in the way of clarification, I think there's been so much that's taught, that has been taught recently about receiving personal revelation, women's access to personal revelation, women's access to blessing their, their children through their prayers, you know, and so my question, I guess, and I'm not doing the greatest job of formulating it, but what should we understand about the continued need for and the role of priesthood holders in the home? Because I think, you know, when we're looking at this, it's, it's hard to see, okay, well, then why do we need that?
BMG: Absolutely. I just got married a little bit less than three years ago and I know that my husband, when we first got married, he is a good, humble, solid, strong priesthood holder. But I know when I was talking with him early on about women and priesthood, and the importance of women understanding the priesthood and men understanding women's roles, I could tell that he was getting a little bit concerned. And then one day, he actually said something to the effect of, "Well, so what does that mean for me as a man?" and I think together, we were able to kind of talk through things and work things out and recognize, first of all, that the more women understand their priesthood role and responsibility, and the men, the more the men understand their's and then the more they understand each other, it's synergy. It's not a competition. It's two people doing everything they can, especially in a marriage relationship, to help themselves and their families fulfill God's greatest goals, immortality and eternal life for His children. That being said, there are things that no matter what priesthood authority that I receive in the temple, I am not ordained to a priesthood office. And so even in the home, there are some overlapping areas between the home and the family and those overlapping areas are almost always associated with ordinances, whether they be the salvific or saving ordinances that we talked about, or whether they be just ordinances such as giving a priesthood blessing. From a very young age, I knew that my mom and my dad were equal partners. But my mom did some things and my dad did some things that were not the same. My mom did not give me a priesthood blessing, but boy could she give a powerful prayer. But at the beginning of the school year, my dad put his hands on my head, and he gave me a priesthood blessing. And I remember as a young teenager, I'm asking my dad for a blessing, and not saying to him anything that was on my mind. And it may sound a little bit far-fetched. And some people have a hard time with some of these stories, but simply, he blessed me and answered through that blessing, every question that I had on my mind and I knew in that moment that my dad had some power beyond his own, because he couldn't. My dad is also an ordained patriarch, and I have been the scribe for him for a number of years. And as he has given patriarchal blessings, it is absolutely completely clear to me that he is speaking with the power and authority of God that he has as a priesthood leader who holds the priesthood and has been called to that assignment that no woman in the Church has been given. Again, my mom could give wonderful prayers, and she could offer wonderful support, and she has incredible faith. But there's a different assignment from one who has been given the authority to hold a priesthood office and do those callings and perform those ordinances. My mom could not baptize me, my mom could watch, and she could be there. And I love it. And she was 100%, supportive of my dad in doing so but my dad is the one who was given the authority to baptize me as a child. He was the one as a stake president who was called, and given the authority to set me apart. My mom couldn't do that. So there are clearly things that a man does, because he holds the priesthood that are important. My husband now, who I absolutely adore, and I'm so grateful that I do have a husband who holds and honors his priesthood, I ask him for a priesthood blessing and he is able to do that and perform that because he is a priesthood holder. There are very few things, I should say there are a number of things but few things are of greater importance to me than having a husband and a father, and brothers and priesthood leaders who hold the priesthood and do so worthily. That doesn't minimize women, in fact, that strengthens women. And it doesn't minimize the man because a woman has authority and priesthood power, it strengthens both but clearly there are some things that men can only do because they hold the priesthood. But there are some things women can only do because they're women, too.
MJ: Yeah. Thank you. One last thing I want to touch on before we get to our final question, you've written about the importance of giving credence to female leadership in the Church. And in how important it is, you quoted President Ballard in the article where he said, "The power of the voice of a converted woman is immeasurable and the Church needs your voices now more than ever," and I love that quote.
BMG: I do too.
MJ: I think that, as women, sometimes we diminish the value of our voice and the value of other women's voices as well. So how do we better give credence to those voices?
BMG: I think, number one, we need to listen to them. We need to recognize that they have been called especially women who, speaking of the Church, the Church role, women have been called by one who holds priesthood keys. So the general auxiliary leaders of the Church have been called by the prophet of the Church to fulfill their positions. So they have specifically been given priesthood power and authority. When they are speaking at general conference, they have been invited by the prophet of the Lord who speaks for God, to give a message that they are receiving through Christ, what they say at general conference is just as important as any other person that is speaking. So we listen to them, we experiment upon their words, we quote from them, we speak kindly of them, and respectfully, we pray for them, as we've been asked to do for other leaders of the church. We validate them in any way that we possibly can. I've had students in the past that have joked and said, "When Sister so and so speaks, it's a good time to go to the bathroom." And I just I cringe at that, because I think, how in the world would you leave the room when someone called of God with power and authority has been invited to speak to you? It doesn't matter who's speaking, that person has the authority and power of God to be speaking, it doesn't matter what gender is speaking. So I think that's one. I think, that's more on a general level, I think on a local level, using women to be in councils. And not just by a token women but actually listening to them, taking into account what they're saying, make decisions based upon what they are sharing in the group. And speaking again, very positive of them. I think another thing that's perhaps lacking, in some ways, is some training. Men are typically trained more in the Church, that's changed a little bit with some recent policy changes in the Church. But training women, even especially as young women whether they go on missions or not, but giving them really good training on speaking and on meetings and on group work and leadership and helping them understand the Handbook of Instruction, helping them understand what the priesthood is. It's been kind of traditional in the Church that the young men and the men go to the priesthood sessions, that's, again, not the same, but it's also important to help women be trained very well to, to be able to minister to other people, to be able to speak publicly, to be able to participate in meetings. But I think that council part is one of the most important, making sure that the women are given resources. I remember as a kid again, thinking that my brother got a lot more money spent on him because he was a Boy Scout and a young man and the girls, you know, somehow, we were always stuck in the kitchen or something. And that used to really frustrate me, they would go up to Canada and spend all this money and we were stuck with nothing. And I think when the young women recognize and the leaders recognize that putting the finances or putting the resources into both, and raising both is extremely important. I just think anything we can do to to help them succeed. But I think the validating is extremely important, giving women a voice. If there are 10 men in the room, and there's only one sister, I would hope that the sister speaks, but I would also hope that she would be invited to speak. But there are just some basic things that I think that we can do to help those women to feel validated by giving them credence in a number of ways.
MJ: Yeah, I agree completely. My last question for you, Barbara. And I feel like we've been going like a million miles a minute trying to fit all of this in. And so I'm like, I can't wait to go back and listen to this and try to internalize it even more. But thank you so much for sharing all of your thoughts with me. My last question is, what does it mean to you to be "all in: the gospel of Jesus Christ?
BMG: That's such a great question Morgan. It's something that I think about often, I think, for me, it's that my eye is single to the glory of God, that my motivation is based upon God's motivation, that my actions are based upon God's teachings of how I should act, that my conversation is in line with what the Lord would have me say, and speak and do, that I am trusted by Him because I try to do everything to be worthy of His trust, that I study so I know what I'm all in about. So that I'm, I'm a faithfully obedient person, instead of a blindly obedient person, that I'm completely converted to the Lord and consecrated all of my life, my talents, my gifts, my energy, my finances to God. When we're all in, I think we're His in any way that He wants, whether it's small or large, and anything in between, He knows and we have committed to give Him our all and the best of our all. I think being all in is also recognizing that none of us are perfect, and that we need the Savior and the Atonement of Jesus Christ in order to repent. I think being all in is repenting and recognizing our dependence and our reliance on the Savior, Jesus Christ, and doing everything we can to know His will and then acting upon it.
MJ: Thank you, thank you so much for being here with us. We really, really appreciate it.
BMG: Thank you Morgan. It's been a pleasure. Thank you so much.
MJ: Thank you to Barbara Morgan Gardner for joining us on this week's episode of "All In," and as always, thank you for listening. We are anxious to share more episodes with you and hope you'll keep coming back for more. In the meantime, please do me a big favor if you haven't already, and leave us a rating or review on iTunes. Also, don't forget to check out our show notes by visiting www.ldsliving.com/allin. Thank you so much.